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Syracuse police to get dozens of body cameras

Syracuse police are looking to give more officers body cameras to help keep neighbors safe

Syracuse police are looking to give more officers body cameras to help keep neighbors safe.

Currently, a private company called AXON is providing for 100 cameras free of charge for one year.

After that, it would cost $189,000 for the first year and $164,000 for every year following. The goal is to have officers wearing them by June.

"It might be a good idea because you won't have to deal with stories going one way or the other," Anne Green of Syracuse said.

The new cameras come after a year-long pilot program with just 16 cameras.

Deputy Chief Joe Cecile said at first officers were not too sure about the technology, but months later, it is quite the opposite.

"They're asking for them because they feel more comfortable when they have them on. The public obviously feels more comfortable when they see them on, and it seems to be a benefit for everyone," Cecile said.

Officers wearing cameras does bring up issues of privacy and policy.

Cecile said in some circumstances officers will be able to mute or turn off the camera like in the case of a sexual assault interview with a victim, but the specific policies for the officers are still being worked out.

"Giving the officers very little discretion as to when they can turn it off but certainly give them reasons why they can," Cecile said.

An overall policy guide including how the footage will be used, whether or not a citizen can request the cameras be turned off and the release of the video all still need to be decided.

"Really use it as a mechanism to look at how they're used, when we use them, where we use them, how data is stored, how we're able to garner the information to learn during this year the best way to do this," Sharon Owens, deputy mayor for Syracuse, said.

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